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Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Witchcraft - The Windsor Witches - Elizabeth Stile, Mother Dutten, Mother Dewell and Mother Margaret

Witches' Familiars
16th Century Illustration showing Elizabeth Stile feeding her familiars

On 26th of February 1579, four woman were tried at Abingdon Assizes.  Their names were Elizabeth Stile, a 65 year old widow from Windsor, Mother Dutten from Clewer, Mother Dewell from Windsor and Mother Margaret, who lived at the almshouses in Old Windsor.

They were accused of killing several people by the means of bewitching with a 'poppet'.

"In folk-magic and witchcraft, a poppet is a doll made to represent a person, for casting spells on that person or to aid that person through magic. These dolls may be fashioned from such materials as a carved root, grain or corn shafts, a fruit, paper, wax, a potato, clay, branches, or cloth stuffed with herbs. The intention is that whatever actions are performed upon the effigy will be transferred to the subject."

Corn Poppet

A pamphlet printed at the time of their execution states the following:

"One father Rosimond, dwelling in Farneham Parish, being a widower, and also a daughter of his, are both Witches or Inchanters, and can transforme himself by Divelishe meanes into the shape and likenesse of any beaste whatsoever he will.

One Mother Dutten dwelling within Cleworthe Parishe, can tell every ones message, as soone as she seeth them approche neare to the place of her abode. And further, she keepeth a Spirite or Fiende in the likenesse of a Toade, and feedeth the same Fiende lying in a border of greene Herbes, within her Garden, with blood whiche she causeth to issue from her owne flank.

One Mother Dewell, dwelling nigh the Ponde in Windsor, being a very poore woman, hath a Spirite in the shape of a Blacke Catte, and calleth it Gille, whereby she is aided in her Witchcrafte, and she daily feedeth it with Milke, mingled with her owne blood.

Mother Dewell's familiar Gille

That one Mother Margaret dwelling in the Almes house at Windsor doeth feede a Fiende named Ginnie, with crumbs of bread and her owne blood.

Elizabeth Stile, alias Rockyngham, of her self confesseth that she the same Elizabeth, until the time of her apprehension, kepte a Ratte, being in very deede a wicked Spirite, naming it Philip, and that she fed the same Ratte with bloode, issuing from her right hand, the markes whereof evidently remaine, and also that she gave her right side to the Devill, and so did the residue of the Witches before named.

Father Rosimond, with his daughter, mother Dutten, mother Dewell, Mother Margaret, and Elizabeth Rockingham, did accustome to meet within the back side of Mister Dodges, and did in that place conclude upon hainous, and villainous practises. They all purposed and agreed, by their Sorceries, and Inchantementes, to dispatche one Lanckforde a Farmer, dwelling in Windsor by the Thames side, and that they murdered him accordinglie. They also by their devillishe arte, killed one Mister Gallis, who in times past had been Mayor of Windsor. Likewise a Butcher named Switcher escaped not their treacherie, but was by their Witchcrafte brought to his grave.

The manner of their Inchantemente, whereby the persones afore named were murdered was thus: Mother Dutten made pictures of Redde Waxe, about a spanne long, and three or four fingers broade. The said Mother Dutten did sticke an Hawthorne pricke, against the left sides of the breastes of the Images, directly there where they thought the heartes of the persones to bee.

Every one of them, if any had angred them, would go to their Spirites and say, Suche a one hath angred me, go do them this mischief. And for their hire would give them a drop of their owne blood, and presently the party was plagued by some lamentable casualtie.

Elizabeth Stile with the Devil

Elizabeth Stile confesseth, herself often times to have gone to Father Rosimond house where she founde him sitting in a Wood, under the body of a Tree, sometimes in the shape of an Ape, and otherwhiles like an Horse. She also confesseth her self to have turned a childes hande in Windsor cleane backwardes.

Also this is not to be forgotten, that the said Mother Stile, being at the time of her apprehension so well in healthe of body and limbs, that she was able and did go on foote, from Windsor unto Reading unto the Gaile, whiche are twelve miles distant. Shortly after that, she had made the aforesaied confession, the other Witches were apprehended, and were brought to the said Gaile, the said Mother Dewell did so bewitche her and others with her Enchantmentes, that the use of all her senses were taken quite from her, and her Toes did rotte off her feete, and she was laid upon a Barrowe, as a moste uglie creature to beholde, and so brought before the judges, at suche time as she was arraigned."

You can read more about The Windsor Wicthes at Strange Britain.

You can read more about Elizabethan witches at Elizabethan Witchcraft and Witches.

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